It’s a wonderful time of the year … when far-flung friends and families gather to reconnect, celebrate traditions, and enjoy each other’s company. It’s also the busiest travel season. The next two months will see more pets traveling with their families than any other point in the year. And, if you’re not careful, a simple mistake can lead to disaster! Whether you’re an experienced pet traveler, or striking out on your very first pet friendly adventure, these tips will help you avoid the most common holiday pet travel mistakes.

How to Avoid the Top 5 Pet Travel Mistakes |

Tips For Avoiding Holiday Pet Travel Mistakes

1. Make Your Reservations Early

Getting derailed before you even start would certainly be a crushing blow during the holidays! If you’ll be traveling by air, train, or rental car, be sure to book early, and be very clear that you’re traveling with a pet. Airlines pet policies differ regarding pet reservations, required documentation, and pricing, so be sure that you’ve dotted your I’s and crossed your T’s.

READ MORE ⇒  U.S. Airline Pet Policies

Pet policies for rental cars also vary greatly, so get all the details up front, and document your conversation (including who you spoke to) in case there are any questions later.

Next, think carefully about where you’ll stay during your holiday break. Camping on someone’s sofa might be an option, but is your host excited that your dog or cat will be staying, too? Reserving pet friendly lodgings gives you a comfortable, quiet space of your own to relax – a respite from the chaos. It could be the best gift you give yourself (and your pet) this holiday season.

How to Avoid the Top 5 Pet Travel Mistakes |

2. Manners Matter

Nothing puts a damper on your day faster than knowing that your pet’s behavior is causing tension. If your pup can’t stop digging through the trash, barking, or jumping on the kids, your day will be spent trying to keep him out of trouble rather than enjoying your family and friends! Set your pet up for success – and impress your hosts – by brushing up on his basic obedience skills before you go.

3. Hit the Road

More vehicles on the roads during the holidays translates into more car accidents. For his safety and yours, it’s important that your pet is properly secured in a carrier, crate, or seat belt harness while you’re driving. Start acclimating your pet to his carrier or harness well before your trip to guarantee the ride goes smoothly.

READ MORE ⇒  State Laws Require Pets To Be Restrained in Vehicles

4. Avoid Spoilage

With all the eating, drinking, and merry-making, pets are often fed things they shouldn’t have during the holidays. Chocolate, raisins, macadamia nuts, alcohol and other foods are dangerous for your dog, and could have you spending your holidays at the emergency veterinarian! It’s safest to avoid any gastrointestinal issues by sticking to your pet’s normal food and treats.

Even when you’re careful, pups sometimes manage to get into things they shouldn’t. In that case, having your pet’s veterinary records with you could be critical to help in the treatment of an illness or injury. Rather than lugging around a large file, make a paper copy of the current vaccination records, and scan the rest for storage on an easy-to-pack USB drive.

READ MORE ⇒  What You Should Know About Emergency Vets (Before You Need One)

White terrier at the wheel of a red truck parked at a pet friendly movie theater

5. Lost and Found

It’s terrifying to think about, but it only takes a split second for a pet to slip his leash or dash out the door and be lost. Remind guests that may not be accustomed to having pets around to be careful when entering and leaving the house. And be sure your pet’s ID tags have a phone number where you can be reached while you’re traveling. It’s also a good idea to have your pet microchipped before your trip, and carry a current photo in the event you need to make posters.

Follow these simple steps, and you’ll avoid the most common holiday pet travel mistakes. We hope your trips come off without a hitch!

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  • No matter how much they may care, you can never trust others to value your pet. Years ago we lost a much-loved 6-month old puppy at a family gathering when he slipped out the door to escape the hubbub. While it may seem extreme (and family members still encourage letting them loose), none of our dogs are ever allowed off leash away from home — inside or out. I will never forget that little smashed body handed me in a paper sack.

    • Oh no, Rich! I am so sorry for your loss. I can only imagine how painful that must have been and my heart goes out to you. Keeping dogs on a leash at family gatherings is a great idea. Thank you for sharing.

  • My husky used to get anxious when I would visit friends and family especially overnight. I found a great travel bed to bring with me that I could zip up with his favourite toys and that really helped. If I had to fly, I would often send money ahead and ask they buy his brand of food which was never a problem. Travelling with a dog is a learning experience and with some trial and error you will get it right and have some great adventures.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Matt! Yes, traveling with pets takes a little extra planning and some figuring out as you go. But it’s well worth the effort! Waggin’ trails to you.

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